Toughie 1915 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1915

Toughie No 1915 by Kcit

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Managed to get this done before the school run, which surprised me at the time as I thought I was doing a proXimal, which normally takes me longer. Meanwhile this has been corrected online (thanks CS). Kcit gives us a solid puzzle where I had to think a bit to get some synonyms and a few of the clues I only parsed as I was writing the hints. We have some interesting people: Danish, American and Prussian as well as a musical expert in 16a, a nutter at 1a, some university types and a dodgy character in 5d. Enjoy.

The definitions are underlined below. The hints explain how the wordplay works, and you can reveal the answers if you want by clicking on the CLICKETY CLICK buttons. Please leave a comment telling us how you did and what you thought.


1a    Look good, heading for crag with agile mountaineer (4,7)
ROCK CLIMBER: A slang verb meaning to look or do something really well, the first letter (heading) of Crag plus an adjective meaning limber

7a    Matches leader in support for race (3,4)
PIT STOP: A 4-letter verb meaning matches, as in finding a competitor for, plus a word meaning leader as in person in the highest position

8a    Vehicle light with flash installed by dude (3,4)
FOG LAMP: an informal shortened adjective for flash or sparkly is installed inside a dude or dandy.

10a    Missing a froth in beer is perfectly rational (3,5)
ALL THERE: A 6-letter word for soap-froth without the A (missing a) goes inside a 3-letter beer

11a    The writer’s friend — a beastly bounder (6)
IMPALA: How the compiler might say ‘the writer is’ from his perspective in contracted form, a 3-letter word for friend and A from the clue

13a    Prompt in shedding last of clothing? (4)
NUDE: Take a 5-letter word meaning prompt or poke as a reminder, and remove (shedding) the last letter in clothing. An all-in-one, though it seems to me the last 4 words work best as definition

14a    It has to — in case holding that is seen as an indication (6,4)
LITMUS TEST: A 4-letter conjunction meaning ‘in case’ contains (holding) a (2,4) phrase meaning ‘it has to’

16a    Key worker‘s reputation suffering? Not initially for a time (5,5)
PIANO TUNER: An anagram (suffering) of REPUTATION in which we replace a Time (i.e., one of the T’s) with the first letter of Not (not initially)

18a    Obscure comments by publisher left unfinished (4)
BLUR: A 5-letter word for publisher’s comments, usually printed on the jacket of a book, without the final letter (left unfinished)

21a    Film star required for take at once (6)
KEATON: Hidden (required for…)

22a    Learned people targeted accountant in recession (8)
ACADEMIA: A reversal of a 5-letter verb meaning targeted and a 3-letter abbreviation for an assistant accountant

24a    Name otherwise adopted by fashionable composer (7)
NIELSEN: The abbreviation for Name, then a 4-letter word for otherwise goes inside (adopted by) a word for fashionable

25a    Bash that’s underhand in fight (4-3)
BLOW-OUT: A 3-letter adjective meaning underhand goes inside (in) an arranged fight

26a    Lightweight journalism delivered by one ass? (5,6)
SILLY SEASON: A reverse anagram – the answer is a cryptic instruction that delivers an anagram of ONE ASS



1d    Upset and mostly irritable following a guide (7)
RATTLED: A 5-letter word for irritable without the last letter (mostly) plus a word that means following a guide (if you are ***, you are following a guide)

2d    Easily-retained energy abstracted from college in island (6)
CATCHY: Remove (abstracted) the E(nergy) from an informal 4-letter college and place the result inside a low islet

3d    Half-hearted policeman, copper in the wrong, upset old scientist (10)
COPERNICUS: Take another word for policeman (which happens to be the next word in the clue) and remove one of the central pair of letters (halfhearted) and add the chemical symbol for copper in a reversal (upset) of a 3-letter word meaning the wrong

4d    Jack dropped in an instant, being dodgy (4)
IFFY: Take a 5-letter word meaning an instant and remove the initial J(ack)

5d    Substantial obscurity surrounding a criminal union member (8)
BIGAMIST: A 3-letter adjective meaning substantial or huge and an obscurity or fog surround the letter A from the clue

6d    Always keeping wordless singing up? It’s the booze (4,3)
REAL ALE: A reversal (up, in a down clue) of a poetic form of always around (keeping) what you might sing if you don’t know the words

7d    Dig north, going under flat areas, not mincing words (5-6)
PLAIN-SPOKEN: A 4-letter verb meaning dig or prod plus the abbreviation for North goes under (in a down clue) a word meaning flat areas of land

9d    Broken carpal tests its treatment? (7,4)
PLASTER CAST: An anagram (broken) of CARPAL TESTS

12d    Mischievous character sent up church telegram without error (10)
IMPECCABLE: Our usual 3-letter mischievous character, the reversal (sent up, in a down clue) of the abbreviation for church, and another word for telegram

15d    Huge failure, investing in fuel (8)
COLOSSAL: Another word for failure goes inside (investing in) a type of fuel

17d    Is rousing funeral party interrupting a couple of Poles? (7)
AWAKENS: A funeral party goes between (interrupting) the A from the clue and the two poles

19d    Light working with nothing plugged in? It must be a spoof (7)
LAMPOON: Another word for light, add a short word meaning working, then insert the letter that looks like zero (with nothing plugged in)

20d    Promises of reimbursement after party turned nasty (6)
ODIOUS: The usual signed acknowledgements of debt follow the reversal (turned) of a 2-letter party

23d    Resent man with message leaving fourth item out (4)
ENVY: Take a 5-letter word meaning a messenger, and omit the 4th letter

My favourite today for the biggest smile and nice reverse clueing has to be 26a. I also liked 5d. Which clues did you like?

18 comments on “Toughie 1915

  1. Like Dutch I solved this in the belief that the setter was proXimal and thought that the latter had come over all fluffy because I didn’t think this was a ‘Friday-level Toughie’. Thanks to Kcit and Dutch for the review.
    My favourite clue was 5d.

  2. Oops…so the second word of 26A wasn’t ‘person’? No wonder I couldn’t parse my answer. I had no idea who the setter was. I rarely do. I like to be surprised. I’m happy that I solved it (except for 26A of course). 5D was my favorite also, but I liked 8A and 9D as well. Thanks to Dutch and Kcit.

  3. I failed on ‘lightweight journalism’ also, not knowing that the answer relates to it. Damn!

    Thanks setter and blogger.

  4. I enjoyed this very much, and I was pleased to be able to finish it unaided (I found it a refreshing change not to have to rely on Google), although I did not find it quite as hard as many a Friday toughie. . The longer outside clues came quite easily and the rest flowed steadily from there. Many thanks to Kcit, and to Dutch for yet another excellent review.

  5. This is perhaps not the usual Friday-level toughie for the expert but tough enough for me. I managed to finish without help of any kind for only the second time ever on a Friday. Thanks to Dutch for helping me understand 6d. 5d and 16a made me smile and were my top clues.

  6. Oh! I too was under the false impression that this was a proXimal, and extremely nonplussed by it therefore… Many chestnuts such as 15dn and 4dn. This makes much more sense as a mid-week puzzle that has accidentally wandered into Friday. My favourite clue was 1dn due to the cleverness of “following a guide”, nice little mislead there. Thanks Kcit (it seems!) and dear old Dutch.

  7. As others have remarked it must have been a relatively easy Friday Toughie since I managed it unaided. That’s 2 days running – I think that’s a record for me. 2.5*/****. The long outside clues certainly gave a quick and good early start, and I always enjoy a bit of general knowledge content. I think 16a was my favourite..

  8. I loved it so I guess that must mean it was easy for a Friday!
    Plenty of humour, which I always enjoy, and nothing that required delving into the BRB.
    Top two for me were 26a&1d.

    Many thanks to Kcit and to Dutch for another fine blog.

  9. Very nice, I was expecting tougher. 16a was last in, made me smile, and is my favourite for the penny-drop. 26 a close second. A nice array of clues, some nifty wordplay interspersed with a good deal of wit, lovely jubbly.

    Many thanks to Kcit and to Dutch for the blog.

  10. I really enjoyed this; usually the Friday Toughie is at least one stage beyond me but this one was just right, with just enough steady progress to keep me happily engaged and plenty of nice penny dropping moments.
    Many thanks to Kcit and to Dutch.

  11. We also solved this believing that it was by proXimal and did think it was lighter in tone than his usually are for us. Several that had us head scratching. For example we had convinced ourselves that 2d had to contain TON somehow which was energy-less ETON. Good to eventually get that one sorted. Plenty to keep us smiling all the way through.
    Thanks Kcit and Dutch.

  12. Not often I manage to finish a Friday puzzle (which took me on and off until just now). Have to agree with 2Kiwis, when “college” comes up I always go for ETON. Now I must add TECH to the possibilities.

    General question; Before going to the Toughie I always look at the Killer Sudoko and Kakuro alongside. I can always solve these, even on Fridays. In contrast, I often struggle with Toughies.

    On the other hand a number of folks I talk to (not that many admittedly) generally or always solve the Toughie but either ignore, or struggle with the Killer Sudoko or Kakuro.

    I’d be very interested to know how others fare on these different sorts of puzzles.

    My best to all


    1. It is quite easy in our house – I do the ‘words’ and Mr CS does the ‘numbers’. Although saying that, he also looks up the Saturday GK Crossword stuff that isn’t lurking somewhere in my head once I’ve solved the clues that I can, as he likes looking stuff up and who am I to deprive him.

  13. I read through all the across clues and most of the downs without solving any and was beginning to despair of being able to complete the puzzle at all. Then I got 15d and after that it fell into place without any major hesitations. My last in was 1a, not because I had not spotted it earlier but because I was a bit iffy(!) about ‘rock’ until I was satisfied with 1d and 2d, so you could say that 2d was my last. My favourite was 3d.

  14. I struggled with this one, needing 4 hints to complete – all on the LHS. I liked 26a, though. Thanks to Kcit and Dutch.

  15. Just finished this after a poor start last night. Favourites are 14a and especially 26a. Last in was (surprisingly?) 18a which for a long time I just couldn’t see……

  16. Thanks to Kcit and to Dutch for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much, I thought it was a gentle Toughie for a Friday. I had implacable for 12d, which made 16a impossible. Also needed the hints for 23d. Favourite was 6d, which is my favourite tipple when not suffering with gout 😥 Was 2.5 ✳ / 4 ✳ for me.

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